Interview with Ricoh Imaging - Photokina 2018

Opening Day at Photokina

By PF Staff in Photokina 2018 on Sep 28, 2018

Wednesday September 26 was the opening day of Photokina 2018 and the day of our meeting with representatives from RICOH. We have already reported on the announcement of the development of the RICOH GR III here and that constitutes RICOH's sole official announcement at this year's Photokina. The GR III should become available early 2019.

Already from the morning the Ricoh booth attracted curious spectators (click any image to enlarge and browse):

The Pentax booth on opening day

On display were the Pentax 645Z, K-1 II, KP, K-70, Theta V, and Ricoh GR II. Also, all currently available DSLR lenses were on display. The new RICOH GR III was displayed behind glass, almost floating in the air:

RICOH GR 3

The oversized Theta attracted the younger crowd with a VR demo:

Theta V

The Theta enjoys the #1 spot in market share for 360 degree cameras according to Ricoh. This was evidenced elsewhere on the show floor such as at a presentation by Pavel Kaplun, who talked about the trend in imaging towards more types of equipment being in use when creating audio-visual presentations. The equipment is becoming simpler to use while more versatile. His presentation included the Theta alongside drone and video capturing devices:

A plentitude of devices now in use by professionals

A theme at Ricoh was street photography and a wall showed a number of street photos by GR and and Theta shooters:

The street is ours

The Interview with Ricoh

We met with the following four representatives from RICOH Imaging Company, Ltd., listed from left to right:

  • Mr. Thijs Ekelschot, Head of Global Marketing
  • Mr. Shinobu Takahashi, President
  • Mr. Tetsuya Iwasaki, Manager, Product Planning Department
  • Mr. Takashi Arai, Head of GR Development, Product Planning Department

As already mentioned, the GR III was the only new product announcement that RICOH had for us at this trade show.

Overview

Regarding plans and dates for new lenses, the K-mount lens road map published in June 2018 after the introduction of the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 lens still stands.

Click the image to download the roadmap as a pdf file

In 2019 we can thus expect the D FA* 85mm F1.4, the DA* 11-18mm F2.8, and the D FA 70-200mm F4 to become available. The longer zoom shown on the roadmap will come after those lenses have been released. At this point no new 645 lenses are planned; Ricoh is monitoring the market situation for medium format with regards to mirrorless versus optical viewfinder. Given the advantage in image quality medium format will continue to be supported in one form or another.

Ricoh feels that there will be a market for cameras with an optical viewfinder in the K-mount arena for many years to come, because many photographers prefer an optical viewfinder. DSLRs and mirrorless each have their strong points, and Ricoh is closely watching the mirrorless market and studying how users want to use their cameras and which features they expect. At this point Ricoh has not decided if they will add mirrorless cameras to the product lineup, but they don't exclude anything. The deliberations regarding mirrorless also cover the 645 format and decisions made could vary by format. The focus is on how the photographers want to use their cameras and what they expect from them; this will drive decisions about format (APS-C/FF/645) and type of camera technology for future products.

The Theta product line is #1 in market share for 360 degree cameras and this line will continue to be expanded. Thanks to the SDK, which allows third parties to develop software for the Theta V, further applications can be expected from Ricoh as well as from partners. It should be noted that Ricoh back in May also released four SDKs for current Pentax DSLR cameras; the announcement and download can be found here.

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Asahi Optical Company from which the Pentax brand originated. Ricoh is planning to celebrate this world wide through various events!

Answers to Detailed Questions from Our Users

Below we relay the answers to the detailed questions posed by our users, where such answers were available and not already covered above.

Q: Will Ricoh work with 3rd party software manufactures like Adobe regarding support for pixelshift?

A: Ricoh is open to work with any such third party that might be interested. Currently there is no such activity.

Q: What happened to sensor based video stabilization?

A: There are some technical issues that still haven't been overcome.

Q: Is the spot AF setting on the K-3 II narrower than the center point in select mode like on the K-1?

A: The narrower center point was introduced in order to achieve precise autofocus with the K-1 in connection with the D FA* 50mm F1.4 lens with its narrow depth of field. The K-3 II has the same technology, but it is more important on the K-1 due to its larger, higher resolution sensor.

Q: Can we expect feature upgrades through firmware or otherwise for the K-1 II?

A: No new features are planned at this point, but in general Ricoh makes upgrades available where feasible like was done with the K-1 to K-1 II upgrade, which was unique in the industry.

Q: Is any information available regarding the wide range telephoto zoom lens on the road map?

A: Not at this point.

Q: Are there any plans of renewing current screw drive lenses, e.g. by adding in-lens AF motors?

A: That's an interesting suggestion. There are, however, no such plans.

Q: Will GR III support the O-GPS1?

A: No. The GR III is capable of shooting at high ISO so it is felt that 30 seconds combinded with high ISO is sufficient for astrophotography, so RICOH has chosen not to support the O-GPS1.

Q: Will the current macro adapter and wide angle adapter compatible with GR III?

A: That cannot be announced at this moment.

Q: Will the GR III support the Pentax P-TTL flash protocol?

A: Yes.

Q: How is autofocus implemented on the GR III?

A: AF is a hybrid system, contrast detect combined with phase detection similar to the AF system in the K-70.

Closing Remarks

In closing RICOH expressed their sincere appreciation of the loyalty of the Pentax users and that they are looking forward to arranging the 100 year anniversary celebrations which will take place next year on a regional basis. We can expect work shops, tutorials, product announcements, and social media content. The intention is to not only portray Pentax in the historical light, but also as a brand reaching into the future.

This concludes our reporting from this year's Photokina. Going forward Photokina will be held in May rather than September, so the next Photokina will take place already in May 2019.

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